TEACHER | WRITER | DIRECTOR | PIANIST | POLITICAL HOST
Allen's association with the renowned Beverly Hills Playhouse acting school extends 25 years, and he has taught for BHP since 2001. Allen started at the school in 1990, and began his apprenticeship with BHP founder Milton Katselas in 1992, working with him almost every day for 16 years until Katselas' death in 2008. Over that time, Allen worked every job at the BHP, in practically every room of the BHP headquarters building on Robertson Blvd and the Skylight Theatre in Los Feliz - filing paperwork in the basement, supervising computer systems, editing Milton's articles and books, running classes, and being gopher, errand-guy, occasional basketball teammate for Katselas' regular 2-on-2 games, and more importantly, apprenticing as a director and teacher and ultimately rising to both CFO (1997) and CEO (2003) positions before taking over ownership of the school after Milton's passing.
Allen's role as teacher began in 2001, when Milton called him one early evening and asked what he was doing.
ALLEN: [Muting the television.] Well, uh, um.......
MILTON: Good. Get over to the theatre and teach that Orientation acting class.
ALLEN: Yeah, but, I mean, don't you think....?
MILTON: Have fun. Call me after. [Click.]
Allen opened the acting class that night with the comment, “Well, either you’re all here for a four-hour mistake, or the start of something very interesting.” Apparently, it was the latter. He began an intensive teaching apprenticeship under Katselas' watch, teaching regularly on a substitute basis, and worked closely with Milton as well in his acting classes.
In 2005, Allen took over his own Intermediate level acting class, and in 2007, Milton brought Allen in to work with him personally, teaching in the Advanced level acting classes - the youngest teacher ever so chosen.
After Milton’s death, Allen has become the regular teacher for the Advanced acting classes, and has often sat in the chair as well for the famed BHP Saturday Masterclass. He is now the Owner/CEO of the Beverly Hills Playhouse.
In 2009, Allen began writing a blog for the BHP website, called "The Study and Pursuit of Acting." In it, he writes of the issues that arise for the actor, both in the classroom and in the Industry at large. He has also been a featured guest on the highly-regarded Inside Acting podcast, and the Destination Hollywood Radio podcast.
Allen is a resident playwright for the Skylight Theatre Company in Los Angeles.
For information regarding Barton's latest play DISCONNECTION, premiering in January of 2015, click here.
His 2013 play, YEARS TO THE DAY, received huge response from the Los Angeles critics, who hailed his writing as comparable to George Bernard Shaw, David Mamet, Edward Albee, and Brett Easton Ellis. YEARS TO THE DAY was named one of LA's ten best plays for 2013, and nominated as well for LA Drama Critics Circle Awards for Writing and Acting. It has gone on to be performed in Paris, New York, Kansas City, and the 2014 Edinburgh Theatre Festival, where it received 4- and 5-star reviews. More cities are lined up for 2015. LA Weekly said, "A gorgeous new play... beautifully tender performances. Director Joel Polis has such confidence in the brains, vivacity and veracity of the conversation... Slightly absurdist, slightly whimsical, deeply ironic and very funny commentary that deflates all we might take to be important, and self-important. A social satire that's simply George Bernard Shaw for the 21st century. It's so good to see a play unafraid of articulating an argument... YEARS TO THE DAY is about its text, about life crises and self-absorption and desperate, comic loneliness. It's a very smart play, an hour and a half of delight."
His first feature screenplay, Real Music, was a finalist in the CAPE New Writers Award Competition, and is currently in the financing stage of production.
"Quite smart. Brisk, biting and engrossing. Fearless performances...an incredible amount of energy, humor and emotional discomfort simmering throughout. Relatable characters, believable context and volatile tension...” - EyeSpyLA
"Lebeau is heart-wrenching... [he] and Yavnieli really do seem like old friends... You will be drawn into the relationship between these two men. Extraordinary actors... You focus on every word reflecting the modern and challenging world in which we all live." - Broadway World
"Very powerful. very relevant, good political references and situations any adult age group could easily relate to. Lebeau and Yavnieli command your attention and keep you captive... Heart warming, funny, very well directed with brilliant acting, this is good theater."
- The Los Angeles Post
"So intense, so definitive, and so funny...noteworthy and hilarious. You’ll love it." - Santa Monica Daily Press
"Acting skills shine...it is a gift to this production that Yavnieli and LeBeau are each able to deliver the dialogue with humor" - Life In LA
"This dynamic intrigues...actors play the subtext of every available moment." - Arts In LA
"Barton writes entertaining rants, and Lebeau and Yavnieli know how to deliver them."
- Backstage West
Allen has directed six short films and over a dozen short and full-length plays.
In 2012, he founded Project X Theatre, a free-theatre concept from the Beverly Hills Playhouse that presents limited engagements of established contemporary classic plays, performed by BHP students. Under the Project X banner, Barton has helmed works including The Heidi Chronicles, Oleanna, and Speed-the-Plow. He directed the world premiere of his own script, Engagement, at the Beverly Hills Playhouse in 2010. Other recent directing stints include Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing (2009), a highly-acclaimed production of Rabbit Hole (2008), the hit comedy Baja Fresh (2008), The Last Five Years (2007). He has also directed the world premiere of Dan Frischman's About Faith at the Beverly Hills Playhouse, Suzanne Whang’s hit one-woman show, I Make You Laughing, the world premiere of Adam Donshik’s Pink Dot, and Guerrilla Rep Theatre Company’s sold-out inaugural production of Burn This at the Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre in Hollywood.
Allen is a prize-winning concert pianist, with regular annual performances on both coasts and five CDs to his credit (find CD information below). In 2010, he was made a Steinway Artist by the legendary manufacturer in recognition of his accomplishments and connection with the Steinway brand.
Allen attended Harvard University and New England Conservatory, where he studied with Seth Kimmelman, and by the time of his graduation in 1990 had performed over ten recitals, music-directed umpteen theatre productions, and played piano for four years in Harvard’s renowned Hasty Pudding Theatricals extravaganzas. Since moving to Los Angeles, Allen has performed regular recitals on both coasts - under the tutelage of Bernardo Segall, Deborah Aitken, and Mario Feninger. He was a prize winner in the 2002 LA Liszt Society Bi-Annual Competition, and his recordings are all available at the iTunes store, cdbaby.com, and other digital download services.
In 2009, Allen performed in the renowned S.T.A.G.E. benefit in Los Angeles, performing his solo version of Rhapsody in Blue in the historic Wilshire Theatre for over 1,000 people.
He began his piano training at age four, and began performing in public at his fourth grade talent show with a rousing - if inaccurate - rendition of Joplin’s The Maple Leaf Rag. In 1986, he won first prize in the Victoria Clamen Young Instrumentalists Competition in Boston, soloed with orchestra in Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and spent the summer after high school in the piano program at Boston University’s prestigious Tanglewood Institute in Lenox, Massachusetts.
From 2008-2012, Allen was a host/interviewer for PJTV, the online video news and commentary site catering to those with center-right / libertarian political views. He hosted PJTV's popular "Front Page" segments, where he interviewed regular commentators Yaron Brook from the Ayn Rand Institute and Terry Jones from Investors Business Daily. He also interviewed Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Judith Miller from the New York Times, Clifford May of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, US Congressman Tom McClintock, former CBO Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, and many other noteworthy personalities in the political and economic realm.
You can check out several videos on PJTV.com's YouTube Channel
Allen was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, grew up in nearby Lexington, and returned to Cambridge to attend and graduate from Harvard University, where he majored in Russian & Soviet Studies. He is the youngest of eight children - three boys and five girls. He trained as a classical pianist since age 4, and through college and beyond has been heavily involved in classical music performance and both straight and musical theatre. His older brother Fred Barton is also a talented Broadway pianist / composer / arranger, and there's jazz in the blood, too - one cousin was none other than Paul Desmond, the world-famous saxophone player for the Dave Brubeck Quartet and composer of the jazz standard "Take Five."
Moving to Los Angeles in 1990, Allen took up acting and directing studies with the renowned Milton Katselas at the Beverly Hills Playhouse, one of LA's oldest and most respected acting schools. He began helping the BHP with basic administration in 1993, was made CFO in 1997, became its youngest-ever CEO/Executive Director in 2003, and with Milton's death in 2008 became the BHP's majority owner. Katselas appointed Allen a member of the BHP teaching staff in 2005 after working through and extensive apprenticeship program under Katselas' tutelage. He currently teaches regularly at the Advanced level at the BHP.
Allen has continued his studies as a pianist with many Los Angeles-based teachers, and is a Steinway Artist. He performs live concerts annually on each coast, and has recorded five CDs.